TURKEY U-19 1-1 REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U-19
The Republic of Ireland Under-19s were good value for their draw today in Istanbul against Turkey in the first of this week's double-header friendly.
A clutch of withdrawals over the weekend left Ireland Head Coach Paul Doolin with several new faces for the trip which concludes on Thursday with the second game between the nations.
The chilly conditions sweeping across eastern Europe over recent days were evident at the Pendik Stadium as snow needed to be cleared from the pitch to allow the game kick-off.
Turkey got off to the better start and Sean McDermott was kept on his toes in the Irish goal. He could only watch on as a tenth minute header rebounded off the crossbar but was called upon eight minutes later to save down low to his left.
That pressure soaked up, the Irish settled down to take control of the midfield. On 25 minutes, they hit the front following a flowing move involving four players.
Kealan Dillon fed George Smith with a quick free-kick and the ball was promptly sprayed wide to attacking full-back Sean Kavanagh. He bombed to the end-line before dragging the ball across the box to the far post where Ken McEvoy was well-placed to slam the delivery home.
That opener galvanised the visitors and they might have been awarded a penalty. Captain for the game, Connor Smith, was poised to shoot inside the box when he was bundled over but no whistle came from the referee.
Turkey always posed a threat and the pressure told six minutes into the second half as Okan Derici gave McDermott in the Irish goal no chance with a 25-yard drive.
Both nations had chances to nick it in the closing stages but according to Doolin, a draw was a fair result.
He said: "It was a fantastic result considering the amount of regulars we were missing.
"Our first-half performance was excellent and perhaps tiredness set in a bit during the second half as the level dropped off.
"Turkey are a terrific side and for lads to come into the squad as late replacements and perform so well is very pleasing."
This double-header is preparation for the UEFA Under-19 elite stage qualifiers, scheduled for May 26-31 in Portugal. Ireland will play mini-group hosts Portugal along with Ukraine and Israel over the six days, with the group winner qualifying for the Estonia-hosted finals in July.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: McDermott (Arsenal); Barker (Bohemians), N. Byrne (Rochdale), Hoban (Watford), Kavanagh (Fulham); C. Smith (Watford), Dillon (Hull City), G. Smith (Southend United); McEvoy (Tottenham Hotspur), Knight (Bray Wanderers), O'Brien (Millwall).
Substitutions: Horgan (Salthill Devon) for Knight â€“ inj (29 mins), Sutherland (QPR) for Dillon (65 mins), Morrissey (Cork City) for McEvoy, Glasgow (QPR) for O'Brien (both 78 mins).
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